MANILA (4th UPDATE) - Former Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon "Dinky" Soliman passed away on Sunday at the age of 68, Vice President Leni Robredo said.
"May napakalungkot na balita tayong natanggap ngayon lang, na si former DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman, namayapa na ngayong umaga," Robredo said in her weekly radio program.
(We received a very sad news just now that former DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman passed away this morning.)
The cause of her death is not immediately known.
The former DSWD chief had contracted COVID-19 in early August, according to her husband Hector Soliman.
"Dinky was the most fragile, since she has a lot of comorbidities, but was fortunate that when COVID struck, she was already in the hospital," he said in an opinion piece on Rappler last Sept. 5.
Soliman served under the administrations of the late President Benigno Aquino III and former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
In 2005, she quit her post under Arroyo following the "Hello, Garci" scandal that stemmed from allegations of poll fraud.
"Our hearts go out to the family of Secretary Dinky Soliman. We are saddened by the news of her passing and we will keep her in our prayers... Rest in peace, Sec. Dinky," DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista said in a statement.
Bautista said Soliman's "remarkable stint" in the department from 2010 until 2016 "greatly reshaped the landscape of social welfare and development."
"Alam mo, very, very close kami kay Sec. Dinky. Nung namatay yung asawa ko, hindi kami magkakilala pero siya yung pumunta sa Naga para samahan kami ng mga bata habang hinahanap pa yung katawan ng asawa ko," Robredo said of Soliman.
(We were very close with Sec. Dinky. When my husband died, she went to Naga to accompany me and my children while the search for my husband's remains was ongoing, even though we didn't know each other yet.)
Robredo's husband, former Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo who also served under the Aquino III administration, died in a plane crash in August 2012.
"Napakabuting tao... Yung buong buhay niya, dinevote niya talaga sa paninilbihan sa mga mahihirap," the vice president said of Soliman, recounting the expansion of implementation of the 4Ps program for the indigent population during her stint in the DSWD.
(She was a very kind person... She devoted her life to serve the poor.)
Some members of the Aquino Cabinet mourned the passing of Soliman.
"Rest In Peace my dear friend. You will now be in eternal Sunflower bliss. We will miss you," former Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said on his Facebook account.
"In any calamity, she was there. She ensured the poorest were not left behind thru the CCT (conditional cash transfer) program," tweeted former Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda.
"She was the smallest member of our Cabinet but the biggest heart among us."
Soliman was last seen publicly during the wake of Aquino, who passed away in late June.
- with reports from Gillan Ropero and Jasmin Romero, ABS-CBN News
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